No one is going to deny the economic gloom and doom filling the news each night. As unemployment soars close to 10% and more and more companies announce that they will be downsizing, it’s time to take a hard look at yourself and make sure that your name isn’t on the list if your company needs to let people go.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Check your attitude
We’re all stressed and we’re all angry about the economy, but don’t let that stress seep into your work life. This is the time for all of us to be team players and to try to stay positive in the face of adversity. I don’t mean that you should roll over and let your employer take advantage of you in the name of the downturn (see my previous post about how loyalty can actually hurt your career), but I do think that we all have to be agile as we figure out how the evolving economy affects our lives. Try not to be the office whiner. All that will do is make people around you more upset. And, if you’re the one hurting office morale, you may be the next to go. Save your complaining for drinks with your (non-work) friends.
2. Stop watching the clock
If you’re the type of person who flies out the door every day as soon as the clock hits five, you might want to kick that habit now. It might not feel fair, but even if your work is done you might want to think twice about being a clock watcher. In a bad economy, the people percieved as overachievers are the ones who are most likely to survive.
3. Step up to the plate
Is there a nightmare project that everyone knows has to get done but everyone is avoiding? Now might be the time to step up and tackle it. By showing that you aren’t afraid to do some of the less glamorous work, you show that you’re a team player — a valuable asset in this economy.
4. Remind your boss how valuable you are
Now is not the time to be shy. Take a moment to reiterate some of your major successes to your boss so she doesn’t forget about all the ways you’ve helped the company. Everyone’s moving a mile a minute right now and sometimes this means that we only have time to focus on whatever the next urgent thing on our list is. You don’t have to make a big deal about it, just drop it into your next conversation with your boss (something like, “With my experience closing accounts X, Y and Z, I thought I’d be a good candidate to take on the A account as well.”).
5. Don’t be afraid to reveal hidden talents
Do you speak a foriegn language or have experience writing proposals even though your main job function is direct sales (for example)? Don’t forget to share your hidden talents with your boss and volunteer to take on activities outside your main job description. If your boss needs to make staff cuts, you’ll be percieved as more valuable because you may be able to do the job of multiple employees.
The moral of the story here is to take the time to show your employer that you’re a team player and you’re ready for anything. It might seem like a pain to take on extra work, but in the long run, it can only help your career. Not only will you help protect your job, down the line, when the economy is better and your company is looking for people to promote, you’ll have proven yourself to be a dedicated, proactive member of the team.
Read more from contributing writer Jennifer Lee Johnson on her personal finance blog, The Next Rich Girl, or follow her on twitter.
Monica S. Flores says
Jennifer, I strongly disagree with all the points you listed except perhaps #5.
I think for many people a pink slip is actually an all-access pass to the future that they really *want* to be living. Those who are valuable members of their team are still hard at work and will not be ‘at risk’, whereas someone who is concerned about their job probably is at the mercy of other underlying issues, like maybe that job or industry or career is not a good fit for them, that particular industry is a dying industry, and being let go actually means an opportunity to bring about new industries, new products, new services…
If someone has a bad attitude, is clockwatching, needs to do a nightmare project (it’s a bad project for a reason), or needs to come up with additional reasons to sell their boss, then maybe that work environment is just not set up for their personal success, and maybe a pink slip is ticket to a better future.
For point #5, I do think that an employee’s bottom line is to add value to the company. So if there are hidden talents, yes, please share them: these could include ideas you have about how to reach new markets, make the existing business process more efficient, increase sales, and in general be more agile…. yes, I think that bringing these talents to the foreground is important.
However, for any company, the primary motivator is to have the company fulfill product and service delivery with employees who are well-suited to their specific task.
If someone is really a good illustrator, then they really don’t belong in the web design department.
If someone is a really good sales person, they truly should be laid-off from technical support.
If someone is a good plumber, don’t have them do the electrician’s job.
For readers, I’d like to know what you think. I definitely don’t believe fear is a great motivator. Instead of thinking what could go wrong with a pink slip, now’s the time to start thinking about what can go right — what moves you, what do you believe in, what dream do you have???? And what can you do to make that a reality?
Jen @ NextRichGirl.com says
I think what you’re talking about is an entirely different topic. My original post is about how to keep your job… whether or not you want to keep it is another topic entirely. Not everyone is ready to take the plunge into a new career right now and sometimes you need the security of the job you have to help you pursue your dreams on the side (or to go to school or do some soul searchng or whatever). When it comes down to it, we all have bills to pay and the best time to make a change might not be in a recession.
I agreed with Jennifer’s post and points (1-5)what she discussed to keep job in this economy but at the same time I do agree with Monica Flores view too. In my situation, I worked nights, always co-operative and open to discuss and can offer more than my job description but hey when the times comes , you let go not because that you are UNWANTED or some one else can do what you do but some time employer think that if they will not let you go with others because of seniority than they might get sued so chances are there..
In last 8 years I have been laid off once and once my company was bought by another company and seems it is ongoing trend in USA economy so I decided to start my own which is difficult but doable.
Monica S Flores says
I would actually be *very* interested to hear other people’s views on this since I’m having a hard time understanding.
I honestly don’t see why someone would have to fight or finagle so much to stay at a job if they don’t intend to excel at it, keep it, and grow it —>
The only things I see down *that* road are stress, health issues, relationship issues, and general unspecified unhappiness, none of which is productive in a job anyway. And believe me, I’ve experienced all of those.
My sense is a recession is a *perfect* time to start a new product or service offering.
i am hoping that the global economy would recover from this economic recession. life has been very hard with these massive job cuts.